AIM: The aim of this paper is to discuss the complexity of admission into a residential care facility from a psychological perspective for residents and their relatives and the resulting implications for nursing care. BACKGROUND: Admission into a residential care facility can be a stressful time for older people, as well as for their relatives. Many relatives have requested continued, meaningful involvement in care in the home, and researchers have identified reasons why it is important to implement strategies for including relatives in care. DATA SOURCES: The background for the paper is published research from the year 2000 on relocation into nursing homes and psychological transitions. DISCUSSION: The concepts of transition from the theory of Personal Constructs are used to make sense of challenges faced by residents and their relatives. The psychological transition is experienced in very different ways by both residents and their relatives, and nurses can make a difference to how this major transition is experienced. However, nurses require improved communication strategies (based on the concepts of transition) that will support residents and their relatives during the admission phase. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: Nurses in residential care facilities need to develop communication strategies that will have a positive impact on the psychological transition that occurs when an older person is admitted into care. CONCLUSION: Improving the psychological health of older people moving into care should be an important goal for all nurses in residential care facilities. Using the theory of personal constructs as a guide, nurses can intervene to make this psychological transition a more positive experience.